1 Timothy 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
I was listening to a sermon clip of my dad’s recently, and he made the comment, “God has enabled us. Those words either bless me or haunt me… if I don’t pursue God and His will and little promptings he brings my way and our way as a church…” In almost every letter, epistle, or salutation, Paul cites the Lord’s enabling as the springboard for his life, work, and ministry. The fact that God had called and enabled him drove him to do all he could in that wherein he was enabled. He could not sit back. He could not stay still. God had enabled him, and he must do something about it.
The thought for today is this: what has God enabled me to do, and what am I doing about it? What are the little promptings of His Spirit, and am I being sensitive to them? If He’s enabled me to share the Gospel, am I as I should? If He’s enabled me with the ability to influence others, am I to the extent of His enabling? If His Spirit has prompted me to take another step in faith, and I willing to do so for the good of the lost and the glory of God?
Might we realize that God has enabled us differently, and in different areas. Might we realize His enabling, and not waste the potential He’s given us to make the difference He wants us to make.
Pastor E – Significance and God’s enabling: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B5uaN7jCWZI8aFlPVjdPWUR2c28
Philippians 3:7-14 “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord… That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead… Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus… For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul had a pretty impressive resume, to say the least. When it came to the Jewish law, he was “the man”. His knowledge and position would have been the envy of any young man aspiring to be a religious leader or role model. He had given his life chasing hard after all those things that would make him righteous in the eyes of the law. But then something happened – Paul met Jesus. And when he did, everything changed. All the things he had given his life for were no longer important, because instead of pursuing knowledge, prestige, the holiness of the law, and man’s applause and accolades, His high-speed pursuit changed directions toward a single goal and a single Being – Jesus Christ.
In this chapter, Paul, like any good preacher, starts off the middle of his sermon by saying “finally brethren”. He then goes on to write the second half of his letter to Philippians :). But I’m sure thankful he did, because we find here invaluable principles to help us to pursue (chase) Christ as we live here below. Let’s see what Paul did to “finish his course (pursuit)” with joy.
- Paul counted his accomplishments, past and present, as loss (vs7-8) – Maybe it was a great doctrinal dissertation, or a tremendous sermon he preached. Maybe it was the Scripture he had memorized from a child. Maybe it was his training in the law. Paul realized that the only thing that really mattered was his position in and knowledge of Christ. We might have merits to our name, or “great” accomplishments, but if we’re going to finish our course with joy, we ought to glory only in the cross and in Christ!
- Paul had the right perspective on “things” – When he had to choose between valuing things or winning Christ, he “counted all things as dung, that I might win Christ”. What value do we place on things that we possess? If we’re to pursue Christ like Paul did, we must have the right perspective on things.
- Paul pursued hard after a relationship with Jesus (vs 10) – Verse ten ties the former verses to it and leads to the following ones. Paul was willing to suffer loss, to count things as dung, to trust Christ, for the purpose of knowing Him. It didn’t matter what it took – the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death – it didn’t matter if Paul could know Jesus! How is my relationship with Him today? Do I have a burning passion like we see here to “know Him…”? Let this be the first desire of our morning, the driving force of our day, and the that which we dwell on at night.
- Paul pressed toward the mark (vs 14) – The word press literally means “to follow after; to pursue”. Paul chased after it. Wherever life led, as long as it was leading toward that day, Paul ran on. When it was hard, he pursued. When he was persecuted, he pursued. When it was tiresome, he pursued. Paul kept his eyes on the finish line, pressing toward the day when he’d see Jesus and receive the prize.
- Paul’s conversation was in heaven (vs 20) – Paul didn’t chase after earthly things, but heavenly things. His lifestyle was “in heaven”. As a runner isn’t thinking about those things around him as he pursues the finish line, or as in a high speed pursuit nothing around matters, but following hard after the target, if we’re to chase Jesus and “win Him”, we must devalue earthly things, and live with heaven on our minds. We must realize that one day we will be there, with Jesus, giving account and receiving reward or suffering loss, and pursue accordingly.
- Finally, Paul looked to Jesus (vs 20-21) – Watching police pursuits is exciting. One thing we know is that, once the helicopter has it’s eye on someone, they’re not going to get out of view! That camera man is not going to let him go or get away. This may be a poor illustration, but we need to be like the cameraman in that helicopter in the high-speed chase. Once we get a glimpse of Jesus and “that day” comes into view, let us never take our eyes off of Him.
In this chapter we see why Paul was able to finish his course with joy. Once he saw Christ, he pursued Him till the day he met Him. Let us seek to do the same today!
Philippians 2:5-10 “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
The first eight verses of this chapter go against my natural inclinations! Be merciful. Be likeminded. Be lowly. Look not on my own things. Look on the things of others. Esteem others better than myself. This is NOT a natural way of living. This kind of living is going to take help. I need a model. I need someone to whom I can look.
Verses 7-8 of Philippians 2 give me this model. The model is called “this mind”. “This mind” is to be “in” me. If it’s going to be in me, I must look to Christ. If I want to live how I’m exhorted to live in verses 2-4, I must apply verses 5-8. Jesus Christ is our example, and the mind He had is our model. Briefly, here is how “this mind” was lived out through Christ.
- He “made” Himself of no reputation – Jesus emptied Himself of His glory and reputation that He had before coming to earth. This was a voluntary act. He came without pomp or grandeur. He didn’t look to make a name for Himself. If we’re to have “this mind”, we’re not to seek to make a name for ourselves. We’d do well to seek to preach Christ, pass the baton, die, an be ok with being forgotten.
- He “took” upon Him the form of a servant – Jesus took on a servant’s form. He washed feet. He served. He helped. He gave. If we’re to have this mind, we’re to look for ways to serve our fellow brethren and our fellow man. This is what He came to do – not to be ministered unto, but to minister.
- He humbled Himself – A true mark of the mind of Christ is one of humility. We must ask, is there humility in my lifestyle, my preaching, my counseling, and my living as a whole?
- He was obedient unto death – Jesus was obedient, no matter what it cost Him. He always did the things that pleased His Father. He despised the shame. He took up the cross. He was obedient to the end. If we’re to have the mind of Christ, we will be obedient to the Father, no matter the cost. Where He leads us, we will follow. What He asks of us, we will do. What he requests of us, we will give up. This is the mind of Christ – the mind of obedience.
Let’s pursue the mind of Christ in our lives today!
A preacher once told me this: “Many preachers’ soul winning illustrations are a decade old. When they preach on winning souls, why is it that they use the same illustrations? Maybe, because they aren’t winning souls as they once did“. I cannot speak for other veteran Christians, I can speak for myself. I fear that we can get caught up in our ministries, programs, and fellowships that we forget about the main thing – sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul lived his life to further the Gospel. It didn’t matter how much Paul knew, or how influential he was, he never stopped living to share the Gospel. It didn’t matter what came upon him – life, death, imprisonment, peril, scourging, or mocking, under one condition: the Gospel was furthered because of it. In this chapter, he’s not only sharing his own desire for the Gospel’s furtherance, but he’s calling those saints in Philippi to do the same – to use their lives as springboards for the Gospel to go forth.
Might we not get so caught up in “life” that we neglect to live to share our faith. It’s so easy to do. But the Gospel is the reason we’re left here. Are there tracts in our pockets this morning? Is there a desire and willingness to approach that person and warn him of hell, and tell him of the gift of salvation? Might we reevaluate our lives in light of this thought – “am I living my life for the furtherance of the Gospel”?
Philippians 1 – Paul, the Philippians, and the Gospel
Verse 5 – I thank God for your fellowship in the Gospel
Verse 7 – You are with me in the defense and confirmation of the Gospel.
Verse 12 – The things that happen are for the furtherance of the Gospel.
Verse 17 – I am set for the defense of the Gospel
Verse 27 – Let your conversation be as it becometh the Gospel